Week 2 and we finally had our space in CPS's fully equipped kitchen. Before we started cooking we passed around the cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and ginger - "Like gingerbread cookies!" Their curiosity was piqued as they smelled (and insisted on tasting) the spices as we explained a little bit about each one. All the kids wanted to put their fingers in the quinoa, which is seeds (not grains as Adrian pointed out).
After the stew was cooked and served, some thought it was a bit too spicy and some thought the chunks of vegetables were too big. We will be going over cutting even pieces next week. Annette was surprised that she liked the carrots even though she doesn't like carrots. They all liked the parsnips we added.
We had only three students this week, and as usual we started with the map, and located Morocco. Peeling and chopping were the most popular tasks once again. Some of the spices were unfamiliar but interesting to the students. We got the main course together, and while it cooked we baked apples for Halloween.
The quinoa was a real winner! The Moroccan stew flavors and the sauce were warmly received but some carrots and squash were left on the plates. When Alaina's mom arrived early with sibs in tow, they eagerly tasted the leftovers and went back for more. I showed Alaina's mom the bag of quinoa and she was delighted to hear she would be able to buy it at ShopRite.
When I arrived for our third cooking class at Bayard Taylor school in North Philadelphia, I learned two of my students were missing dance club to be there. I would understand the true extent of that sacrifice as class progressed.
Eggplant fries were also on the menu. First, I handed out new aprons, a gift from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. (Thanks, PHS.) As we read over this week's recipes, for turkey burgers and eggplant fries, the young chefs were looking quite professional!
Four of the five kids had never tasted eggplant. They eyed the shiny, dark-purple vegetable curiously, but were not the least bit resistant to trying it.
After a two-week delay, our class is finally underway! We didn't have access to the kitchen, so we made the gazpacho and quesadillas, adding more veggies, and skipping the chicken. Everyone wanted to peel and chop the veggies: Their enthusiasm kept three cutting boards, four knives, and two peelers going at same time.
The kids took turns blending the diced vegetables, grating cheese, and sautéing the peppers, onions, and spinach for the quesadillas. Everyone wanted to be a part of everything, even doing the dishes when they saw the industrial kitchen sprayer.
After the table was set and the meal served, these kids dug right in, fearlessly trying everything. Anyia Daniels, who had been skeptical of the gazpacho, insisting it "looks like puke," was surprised after her first spoonful. "Mmm, I didn't think it was going to be that good because of the onions."
We told Keyshawn Andrews that he was getting a "Master Class" in cooking today - two teachers and one student! - because the other students either couldn't make it or had to leave early. We expanded the vegetable selection to sweet potato, white potato, and parsnips, as well as eggplant for "fries." While the fries were baking, Keyshawn prepared and panfried the turkey burgers in the electric fry pan. We still haven't gotten the commercial oven to work in our favor. The fries tasted good, but the panko browned too much.
While we were working, we talked about his recent trip to Howard University, a school he liked a lot and would like to attend.
We sent all the food home with Keyshawn for him to share with his family, which he was very happy about.
For the burgers and the eggplant, we divided into two groups, with two students making the burgers and three working on the fries. Brandon Day and Alaina Tomlinson were a little squeamish about mixing the meat, but they used gloves and got through. Other than that, everyone is getting into the swing of peeling and chopping, so the meal prep went very fast with a lot of time left to eat the final product and discuss dressing up for Halloween. The end results were the burgers were well liked, but the eggplant fries not so much.
"The turkey burger was delicious," said Amber Jacobs. "Loved it with the hot sauce."
"The eggplant fries were good and salty," said Nina Cunningham. "This is the best I ever had. P.S. The best thing is being with my friends."